A Flower That Blooms in Adversity: Challenging Children with Special Needs
Recently, I posted a quote on my personal Facebook page.
This is our special duty, that if anyone specially needs our help, we should give him such help to the utmost of our power.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
I was “in my feelings” about some things that were going on in my life involving my special needs child.
My son has severe ADHD, and is two standard deviations behind other students his age. He has a little bit of undiagnosed impulse control as well which I believe comes from his ADHD.
I noticed that he was bringing home extremely easy to read books, and his newsletter from the teacher stated that they were learning how to add numbers to make 5 and 10. The newsletter also included their life skills curriculum. One of the items on the docket were how to wash their hands and do the dishes.
Now, I am well aware that my child is academically behind other children. This is why he is in a special needs classroom to begin with. With that being said, My son has known how to add numbers since the end of two school years ago, and he is reading chapter books such as Captain Underpants. He teaches himself new words every day without my assistance. And, washing his hands and dishes? He’s been doing chores for a few years now. I’m sure he is capable. None of my other, “non-special needs children”, are learning life skills in their classrooms.
I don’t blame the school or the teacher. They only adhere to guidelines set in place by the government.
I blame society’s view on special needs children.
The human brain is a masterpiece. It has the power to push itself beyond unimaginable limits. As long as it is challenged, it will grow.
In the special needs community, it’s true that some things may be more difficult. And these things are different for each variety of need. But that’s what makes special education different than all the rest. Since each child is different, each curriculum or difficulty level should adjust. Further and beyond, each curriculum should present a challenge for that particular need in order for them to learn and grow.
In high school, that first time you are introduced to Calculus, you instantly want to cry at the difficulty level. However, through instruction, and some perseverance on your part, you can complete your tasks with more and more ease as the year goes on. Because you have more ease, they add more challenges.
I listened to a motivational speaker recently who had no arms. He was adopted by a couple who he thought were there purely to make his life hell. As a child, he was required to do his chores even more so than other children his age without assistance. Much more was required of him. He later, in adult years, talked to his adopted parents about this. They admitted that it broke their hearts to watch him struggle. They wanted more than anything to save the day. But if they had, He’d have not had the skills he has today. The skills to live a normal life even amidst his disability. He’s now a musician… without arms.
Special needs children need our help to grow. That goes without saying. But I feel our country as a whole is failing in that area. We begin to coddle them, or treat them as a pet more than an active member of society. We jump in to make everything easier instead of expecting much out of them.
I expect much out of my son. Since the school is teaching him how to add to 5, I am taking it upon myself to teach him multiplication. Since the school is sending home basic Kindergarten level books, I am expecting him to continue to read chapter books. Since the school feels the need to teach him to make lemonade, I am teaching him how to cook a full supper.
Want to know what I am finding? He is rising to meet those challenges. Yes, he gets mad at me. Sometimes he will throw a tantrum because he would rather sit on his tablet all day. Sometimes, he wants to be treated with everything being done for him how the world would like it set up. He sees it. He sees that all he has to do is act like an infant to get what he wants from the world. But not from me. From me, he gets the tough love that will force him to grow independence, and be able to survive in a cruel world when I am gone.